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Alfredo Escobar San Lucas

ECUADOR - Telecoms & IT

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Executive President, Claro Ecuador

Bio

Alfredo Escobar is the CEO and Executive President of Claro Ecuador. He has worked for 12 years in the telecommunications sector and at the America Movil Group. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from Guayaquil Catholic University and Masters’ degree from ESPAE-ESPOL, in Ecuador, and the University of Quebec.

"We are openly looking for entrepreneurs in the country and in Latin America that want to develop content."

What has the effect of America Movil on the Ecuadorean market been?

Between 2000 and 2011 the mobile telephone penetration rate in Ecuador increased by 104% as a result of enormous investment from companies such as America Movil, and its brand Claro. We have assigned more than $5 billion over the past five years to the development of telecoms in the country. We can proudly say that we have coverage from Yasuni, in the east of the country, to Isabella Island in the Galapagos, which is the furthest point in the west. We have coverage that serves 96% of the population with both voice and data services, and in some areas we are the only service provider available because we have decided not to focus only on the big urban sectors, where there is obvious demand and profitability. Instead we have tried to reach cities with less than 2,000 people, who have sometimes been isolated.

What opportunities exist in providing internet services?

The internet is a great opportunity for every provider in the country and for the entire of society. We are committed to introducing a new digital society in Ecuador. The indices for internet penetration are low, around 14%. Increasing this figure will not only be positive for business, but also for Ecuadorean society as a whole. The most feasible way to make that happen today is to take the first steps into the digital world through mobile phones. Cellphone coverage is nationwide, and smartphone makers are gaining space and lowering their prices, which allows more people to access the internet who maybe didn’t have access before or could only access it through traditional means, such as computers. It will thus be very helpful that public policies align with private policies in order to provide greater benefits to society. If smartphones and certain components are the basis for the growth of usage levels, they should be exempt from certain taxes that stop the growth of the adoption curve—at least in some segments. It’s important to have a balance and stimulate the companies that develop non-traditional market segments like ours.

“We are openly looking for entrepreneurs in the country and in Latin America that want to develop content.”

What plans do you have to introduce 4G technology into the country?

If we benchmark against South America on the radio electric spectrum, which is the spectrum containing all frequencies that phones, radios, TVs, and so on give off, the average for a Latin American mobile provider is around 55 MHz. In Ecuador the average is 35 MHz. The lower the value, the greater usage of frequency there is in order to provide a service. LTE, which is fourth-generation technology, requires wider broadband, so that newly developed networks can cope with the data transmitted. We have made important efforts, and we’ve received a good response from the government in terms of upgrading to a wider spectrum, not only for Claro but for the rest of the providers, because that’s the way public policies stimulate internet access.

Is Conecel looking for partnerships in areas related to content development?

We are openly looking for entrepreneurs in the country and in Latin America that want to develop content. There are many positive stories of young people who have lived the “Latin American Dream,” and started their own company. This has also created a fertile field for new service providers. We have more than 30 local content providers of all kinds. In some cases they have been able to export their services to other Latin American countries.

How significant is Ecuador for America Movil?

This question is similar to asking a father which one of his kids he loves the most; he will say that he loves each one the same. Obviously, there are favorable conditions to develop businesses and Ecuador is a country that offers a lot of opportunities. We have always been committed and interested in growing. Ecuador has big importance for America Movil today because we want to offer new services that exist around the world. The penetration of paid TV in Ecuador is very low as well—it’s around 12%—and in order to offer paid TV in the country you must go through a cable, which means you have to install cables all over the country, or through satellite. We are negotiating that license to be able to offer Claro like we are already offering it in other countries and to become more present in the basic telecoms sector.

© The Business Year – February 2012

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